ATLANTA — Lawmakers are reacting to the federal court ruling delaying the state from certifying the election until Friday.
As a special session of the General Assembly got underway Tuesday, a protest started to erupt inside the Capitol rotunda and Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot got caught up in the middle of it.
Elliot said there were a lot of raw nerves at the Capitol after the ruling energized a lot of people, including both lawmakers and protesters.
Elliot was streaming the protest on his Facebook page when he saw state Sen. Nikema Williams, of Atlanta, being detained by Capitol police officers.
“Because I didn’t leave the floor when they said everyone must disperse, I’m being arrested,” Williams said.
Protesters started yelling, "Let her go!" as police put Williams and several other protesters in zip-tie style shackles.
“I was not yelling. I was not chanting. I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested,” Williams said.
The protest came the day after a federal court judge issued a late-night ruling requiring Georgia to review thousands of provisional ballots as well as set up a hotline, so people can check to see if their provisional ballots were counted.
The ruling also pushed back the state verification deadline from Wednesday to Friday.
House Speaker David Ralston believes Republican Brian Kemp won the election for governor and that there simply aren’t enough ballots still out there to force Kemp into a runoff with Democrat Stacey Abrams.
“I, for one, believe this election is over,” Ralston told Elliot.
Ralston said he recognizes that feelings on both sides are raw and he hopes calmer voices will prevail.
“Frankly, it’s time for the rhetoric to be ratcheted down and for Georgia to move forward. And you know, I’ve lost elections, and it’s tough to accept, but sometimes we have to,” Ralston said.
In total, 15 people were arrested during the protest.
Channel 2's Matt Johnson was there as Williams was released from jail.
"I was singled out as a black senator standing in the rotunda with constituents at the Capitol, a body that I serve in," Williams said. "No one read us our rights. No one explained anything to us. We were just taken away. I will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia and any citizen and demand that their vote be counted."
Elliot received a text message response from the Kemp campaign, saying, “Unhinged radicals are protesting an election that was decided last Tuesday ... while Governor-elect Kemp is working with Gov. Deal to have a seamless transition."
In a news release, the Abrams campaign released the following statement:
"Shamefully, State Senator Nikema Williams was arrested while doing the job she swore an oath to do, standing in solidarity with her constituents to support the core values of our democracy and demand that every Georgia vote be counted. The charges against Senator Williams should be dropped immediately."
Cox Media Group